What’s with everything changing all the time? Roads are detoured, U.S. currency looks different from day to day, my pants are inexplicably shrunken in the wash…
Could we all just sit still for a moment?!
Remember when nothing seemed to change? When green was your favorite color, when you knew that there was no way that you would ever get fat or get seriously hurt, when you knew things for a certainty because they always had been that way?
The older I get – and the more I think about things – the more convinced I become that knowledge is relative, that nothing can be known for sure, and that few things under the control of humans can be “known”.
For example, when I was little, gambling was wrong. Everyone “knew” this. I specifically remember a movie, some movie, where the police came in, raiding a poker game. I had wanted to know why they couldn’t play cards, and my parents explained to me that playing for/with money was wrong, that it was illegal, and that people who gambled were criminals. My father continued on with a speech on organized crime, prohibition, and the Kennedys, but I had already stopped listening.
But gambling illegal? Not true anymore! Gambling is okay now, have you heard? The lottery’s on the TV. There are by-the-hour daycares in casinos. Vegas is actively promoting itself as a family destination. There’s water parks and shows and buffets and hookers. Something for everyone!
Full disclosure here: I’ve only been to Vegas once. Got dreadfully lost in an unfortunate I’ll-Be-Over-Here-While-You’re-In-The-Bathroom Fiasco that netted me two hours of 3:00 a.m. fear, two marriage proposals I suspect were not sincere, one lewd proposition that I suspect was, and a stern yelling-at from the people I was eventually reunited with. I do have to say, however, that through all the trauma I was surprised by the number of people in the casinos with strollers and small children, even at 3:00 in the morning. Ding! Ding! Ding! Daddy, can I have another roll of quarters for the slots?
What does that mean, when something that used to be wrong is now right?
For instance, it used to be okay to smoke cigarettes. Everywhere. In theaters. In airplanes. In hospitals. In courthouses. In bars! I kind of miss that, the smoking-in-the-bar thing, as beer and cigarettes are truly the Fred and Ginger of the night-out dance, but that’s okay, too. Because of the smoking ban, it’s no longer necessary to wash everything that had anything to do with the smoky night before.
What’s my point? That what is okay changes from year to year, from place to place. Some changes, like fashion, are within our control – grown women with bows in their hair? Crocs? Neon-blue bras under sheer white tops? As we say in Minnesota, well, that's interesting.
And other changes, like the profane/highly entertaining cell phone conversations one sometimes overhears on the bus, are more nebulous. When did people become okay with airing their dirty laundry in public?
But I guess that’s the nature of change, isn’t it? One minute you know exactly what you’re doing, and the next minute, despite your high school education, you can’t remember the old name for Myanmar or what used to stand on that corner before they tore it down to make way for the condos.
Change. You just can’t keep up.
Five in Five: Tuesday, January 23
5 hours ago